The city of Venice has a lot of canals (more than a hundred!) so it is not surprising that no less than 400 bridges were built there that cross them, and the Bridge of Sighs is probably the most famous of them. It was built as an elegant white structure above the Rio Palazzo canal, at a height of 11 meters. Beyond the impressive appearance, this is a historical site that carries with it an interesting myth.
If you are visiting Venice, you should make sure you include in your itinerary at least one passage in the area. For an authentic experience, take a romantic boat trip in one of the gondolas and set off to one of the most magical places that the flooded city has to offer.
A bit of history – the Bridge of Sighs was built at the beginning of the 17th century by a famous Italian architect called Antonio Contin. This name may sound familiar to you because the same Contin also designed the famous Rialto Bridge. The Bridge of Sighs is close to tourist centers such as St. Mark’s Square, the New Prison (Prigione Nuovo), and the Doge Palace. The bridge was actually built for a specific purpose.
It was used in the past to transport prisoners on their way to be tried in the local court. Legend has it that the special name of the bridge originates from the sighs of despair uttered by the accused who walked inside it, knowing that they were looking at the world outside for the last time in their lives.
Some interesting facts about the Bridge of Sighs:
- The most famous prisoner who passed through the place is none other than Casanova, who was banned in the 18th century for his anti-religious views. About a year and a half later, he made a daring escape from the prison in the area.
- Inside the bridge, there is a built partition that divides it into two narrow paths. The reason for its construction was to separate and screen those crossing the bridge in both directions.
- If you have arrived as a couple, you will be happy to know that many believe that if you stop under the bridge during the gondola ride for a romantic kiss, it is a virtue to stay together forever.
- The Bridge of Sighs in Venice is not the only one in the world. It has similar siblings in other places such as New York, Cambridge, and Oxford.
If you get really close, you can see inside the building about 20 different mask figures carved into the bridge.
The Bridge of Sighs area has a large number of well-known tourist attractions. Here are some of the most prominent of them:
- Arsenale (Arsenale) – an ancient tower that also serves as a unique historical museum
- The magnificent St. Mark’s Basilica
- The Floating Library (Libreria Acqua Alta) – a cool store of old books and magazines
- San Servolo Insane Asylum Museum – a historical gem in the heart of the city
The destinations can be combined in a day trip, the recommended duration of the visit to the Bridge of Sighs area is up to about an hour.
You can wander around the area on foot, of course for free, but it is equally recommended to take a gondola ride instead. This is a particularly fun and romantic attraction, but not cheap at all. You can pay according to the time you stay on the gondola – during the day 30 minutes of sailing will cost you about 80 euros, and for every additional 20 minutes you will have to add another 40 euros.
Starting in the evening, the prices become even more expensive – 100 euros for a 40-minute cruise and an additional 50 euros for every additional 20 minutes. If you agree to give up the private experience, there is a more economical option and that is to join a group boat. The price of such a cruise is 30 euros per person.